Betting and the NFL and Canada

Interesting article on betting and the NFL:

The Bills in Toronto? You can bet on it!

[i]Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson uttered these words during a press conference earlier this year: “We used to talk football, now we talk money.? Wilson was commenting on the main topic discussed at owners’ meetings these days.

The National Football League wants to grow its business into an international market. The dwindling Western New York fan base is what led all parties to an agreement that will permit the Bills to play eight “home? games in Toronto over the next five years.

The team will be paid $9.75 million for each contest. That’s more than the estimated $6 million the Bills receive for playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Many fans believe that this action will lead to a permanent “home in the dome? for Buffalo.

Despite heavy opposition to sports gambling in the United States, the NFL seems to have overlooked (or turned a blind eye to) the fact that parlay sports betting on college and pro football, hockey and other sports is legal in Canada. The league seems to ignore its lawfulness in other countries where its teams now play regular season games, for example, the United Kingdom and Canada.

In Toronto, there are thousands of lottery retailers offering parlay tickets for NFL games with the Vegas line. One outlet at 255 Front St. W. is a quick six-minute walk from Rogers Stadium.

Yet here at home, the league has been successfully thwarting efforts to legalize sports wagering in states that want to permit it. Most recently a bill introduced in the New Jersey Legislature this year allows professional sports betting in Atlantic City casinos.

“It may be the legal equivalent of a Hail Mary pass, but fighting for legalized pro sports gaming is a play New Jersey can’t afford to pass up,? said Assemblyman Lou Greenwall.

NFL attorney David H. Remes responded, “It’s bad policy because it turns human players into roulette chips with the sanction of the state.?

The hope for many in New Jersey is that legal pro sports wagering will help wipe out increasing illegal bookmaking activity. Estimates put that handle up to around $350 billion per year. (That’s billion with a B, and that’s a whole lotta roulette chips.) The Super Bowl alone generates $10 billion in wagers.

What the league should do is take a deep breath and look forward into the 21st century. Stop attempting to block every piece of legislation that is introduced to permit wagering in this country. Let it be regulated and taxed. The NFL seems to have no complaints with that when games are played in an international environment.

One dedicated bettor once said: “No one is going to watch a 12-and-2 team play a 2-and-12 team unless there’s a decent spread on the ticket.? When people bet, people watch. When more people watch, the league makes money.

You can bet on it! [/i]

Dennis Occhino, a freelance writer, is a gambling expert and columnist for Forever Young magazine’s Lady Luck column.

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